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MP Paul Rowen shocked at level of tinnitus

September 26, 2007 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen was shocked to find that an estimated 10,000 Rochdale residents suffer from tinnitus - the medical term for noises inside the ears or head. Mr Rowen experienced the problems firsthand when visiting the Royal National Institute for Deaf People's stand at the Lib Dem Conference in Brighton last week.

Mr Rowen, the Lib Dem Disability Spokesperson has pledged to help the estimated 10,000 Rochdalians to tackle this problem. He donned special 'tinnitus headphones' in workplace and home environments at the RNID and Unum conference stand in Brighton to find out for himself how distracting tinnitus can be.

RNID research reveals that 15 per cent of people have experienced tinnitus, but 70 per cent of GPs surveyed by the charity have never had any training on the condition.

RNID, which represents the UK's 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people, has joined forces with Unum, the UK's leading disability insurer, to call on GPs to improve the advice and support they give patients with tinnitus and to support people with tinnitus in their efforts to lead a full life, including at work.

Mr Rowen said: "I was shocked to put on the tinnitus headphones and find out just how difficult it can be to relax at home or concentrate on working with constant buzzing or ringing in your ears. Looking the number of Rochdalians suffering from tinnitus it is quite clear that urgent action is needed and I am delighted to be able to back this hugely worthwhile campaign. As the Lib Dem Spokesperson on Disability issues, I will be raising this in Parliament and with my local Primary Care Trust in Rochdale to ensure that the estimated 10,000 tinnitus sufferers in Rochdale are getting the medical support they need and deserve.

"RNID's dedicated new tinnitus website and helpline are doing a great job to support people with this condition and help them get on with their lives. But we need to do more to improve GPs' understanding of this condition."

Brian Lamb, Acting Chief Executive of RNID, said: "Tinnitus can be a debilitating condition for many people, leaving them feeling isolated and stressed - particularly if they can't access the medical advice they need to help manage it.

"Unfortunately there is no cure - however it can be managed with simple techniques and equipment. We're delighted that Paul Rowen has pledged to help tinnitus sufferers get the best care and advice to manage their condition. And if you have tinnitus, you're not alone - RNID's new website and dedicated tinnitus helpline provide expert information and tips to help you 'tune out tinnitus' and live your life to the full."

Joanne Hindle, Corporate Services Director at Unum, said: "We're delighted to join forces with RNID and Paul Rowen to increase understanding and treatment of tinnitus. We are particularly pleased to help highlight a condition which can have debilitating effects both at work and home, but which can be managed with proper understanding. We would extend the campaign to employers who also need to understand what changes they might make that could support employees with this condition.

"By working with local health services and GPs, together we can deliver the best care for people whose lives are blighted by this condition."